ARF Attends Socialist International Council at the United Nations

ARF Bureau Member Mario Nalbandian and SI Vice President Maria Titizian with George Papandreou, SI President and Prime Minister of Greece.

NEW YORK–The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) participated in the Socialist International (SI) Council meeting held at the United Nations in New York on June 21 and 22.

In addition to ARF Bureau member Mario Nalbandian and SI vice-president Maria Titizian, , the ARF delegation included four ARF Eastern U.S. representatives.

Also in attendance were notables such as Ségolène Royal, former presidential candidate of the Socialist Party of France; George Papandreou, Prime Minister of Greece and President of SI; Jack Layton, Head of the New Democratic Party, Canada; Digvijay Singh, General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee; a high-ranking delegation from the new leadership of the Turkish CHP party and many others.

Prior to the Council meeting, Maria Titizian had attended the Socialist International Presidium dinner-meeting, where she discussed the consequences of the global financial crisis in the CIS.

The main agenda items for the Council were the Global Economy, Climate Change, Middle East Peace and Disarmament and non-proliferation.  Unfortunately only two agenda items, Global Economy and Middle East Peace, were discussed and debated in detail and the remaining two topics were presented briefly.

The Global Economy was discussed in detail.  Majority expressed the need to have a better coordinated global economic policy and the upcoming G20 Summit was deemed as an appropriate outlet to discuss and implement such policies.  The need for more regulation, taxation–particularly a transaction tax on financial transactions, more equitable distribution of wealth and prioritizing sustainable growth over short term profits were considered important elements in working towards the Millennium Goals as well as avoiding or minimizing the impact of a possible new global financial crisis.

Middle East Peace also took center stage as a topic of concern for the SI Council.  Ehud Barak, former Prime Minister of Israel and Israeli Labor Party leader, and Avshalom Vilan, Meretz-Yachad Party of Israel, presented their respective party’s views on the current situation in the region and what are the next steps to move forward towards a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Ammar Hijazi, from the Palestinain Fatah party, and Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, from the Palestinian National Initiative,  discussed the Palestinian perspectives on the peace process, the blockade of Gaza, the flotilla incident and the toll this conflict has taken on the men, women and children of Palestine.  Neither one of the speakers for the Palestinian people mentioned Turkey or Turkey’s role in the recent crisis brought about by the flotilla incident.  Several delegations then spoke about the need for a fair and just end to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and in general condemned Israel for the blockade of Gaza.

Following discussion of organizational matters, the Socialist International Council concluded the meeting by adopting several statements and resolutions on the topics discussed.

Mario Nalbandian with Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi from the Palestinian National Initiative.

The ARF delegation met with Prime Minister George Papandreou,  and discussed the shortcomings and general failure of the Turkey-Armenia Protocols.  The ARF delegation  discussed in detail the existing preconditions in the Protocols and the unwritten precondition Turkey decided to pursue once the Protocols were signed, namely the resolution of the conflict between the Republic  of Mountainous (Nagorno) Karabagh and Azerbaijan.  On the eve of his visit to Turkey, the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun informed Prime Minister Papandreou that the ARF supports opening the borders and establishing diplomatic relations with Turkey without any  preconditions and this could be accomplished with the exchange of a simple agreement between the two governments stating as much and nothing more.

The ARF delegation also met with Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi from the Palestinian National Initiative.  The delegation discussed the commonalities of the plights of the Armenian and Palestinian people. The ARF delegation indicated its support of the Palestinian people and the suffering they have and are enduring over the last 6 decades. The ARF also discussed in detail the similarities between the struggle of the Palestinian people and the Armenians in the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh and the universal right of all peoples to self-determination.

The ARF delegation met with several other delegations including Sweden, Australia, Georgia, United Kingdom, Kurdish parties from countries in the region (Turkey, Iraq, etc.), France, USA, Argentina, Cyprus and many others. One item of discussion with some of these delegations was the newly founded Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation and the possibility of cooperation with similar political foundations.

Following the SI Council meeting, Mario Nalbandian and Maria Titizian paid a visit to Armenia’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Karen Nazarian.

The Socialist International is the worldwide organization of social democratic, socialist and labor parties. It currently brings together 170 political parties and organizations from all continents.  George Papandreou, the Prime Minister of Greece, is the President of the organization and Luis Ayala, from Chile, is the Secretary General.

In September 1996, the ARF rejoined the Socialist International, which it had originally joined in 1907. In 2003, the ARF became a full member of the Socialist International, thus becoming the only party in the CIS with such a status. During the XXIII Congress of the Socialist International, June 2008 in Athens, ARF-D representative Maria Titizian was elected vice-president of the organization. The SI Council in Mexico, November 2008, elected ARF Bureau member Mario Nalpatian as co-chair of the SI Committee for the CIS, the Caucasus and the Black Sea.

The ARF Women’s Group is a member of the SIW (Socialist International Women). The youth organization of the ARF, the Armenian Youth Federation, is a full member of the IUSY (International Union of Socialist Youth).

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